Monday, December 12, 2011

Petrie Island and the Eastern Fields with Jane and Connie

Wednesday Dec 7, 9:30am

There were just the three of us, so we all went together in Jane's car. 

I was the first to arrive, so had time to look around.  There was very little in the way of waterfowl at Petrie Island, despite the fact that the skim of ice from last week had melted.  Eventually I spotted some Common Mergansers, Mallards and a single Common Goldeneye (young bird).  When Jane and Connie arrived, they got on them too.
The ladies were anxious to get out to the eastern fields, but first we checked the North Service Road (both directions), but were unable to relocate the Canvasbacks that had been reported there.

By this time, the Park & Ride was full, so, after a brief stop at Tim Horton's, we left my van at the shopping centre just south of Innes Road.  We began cruising the back roads, Frank Kenny, French Line & Regimbald.    On this last one, we struck pay dirt with a Northern Harrier.
At Giroux Ponds, we had several more Common Mergansers, a few Canada Geese and a first-year Herring Gull.  The ladies saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly by with it's distinctive undulating flight pattern.

Back on Frank Kenny, we had some open water where there were lots of Canada Geese and a few Mallards.  We made our way over to Navan to look for the Sandhill Cranes, but did not see any on either Smith or Milton Roads.  We figured that they might have migrated, although they had been reported a few days earlier.

We decided to head out past Casselman to look for Snow Geese and Snowy Owls.  On the 417, we saw at least two Red-tailed Hawks perched near the road.  We exited at Hwy 138, where there was another large Red-tailed Hawk perched. 

We went first to Allaire Road where we saw a huge flock of Greater Snow Geese swirling around preparing to land in the fields.  We at first thought there were around 8,000, but we kept revising our figure upwards as more and more came in overhead.  There were some Herring and Black-backed Gulls in the foreground, but our attention was repeated drawn to the spectacular mass of Snow Geese.  The geese all went down, and by now we were estimating 15,000. A flock of Snow Buntings was also seen.  A French birder was also scoping - he had a sign like Tony's on his car that said "Miroise".  Jane asked him about owls but he had not seen any.  I figured that he might not have been a local guy.

We crossed to the other side of Hwy 417, and before we reached Concession 20, we screeched to a halt as there was a Snowy Owl on the left on a stump.  Jane and Connie were pleased to finally see one of these this year.
We cruised all the concessions and side roads without seeing another Snowy, but there was a male Northern Harrier on Renaud, as well as another Red-tailed Hawk and more Snow Buntings.  We continued to see skeins of Snow Geese going overhead, and we upped our estimate to 25,000.  We even drove back to Allaire to see if the mass was still on the ground, and they were!  A later independent report had the number at 40,000.  Whatever the count, it was an amazing spectacle.

We decided to call it a day, but saw another Red-tailed Hawk on Frank Kenny on the way back.  There was a group of Wild Turkeys on Milton Road and another unidentified hawk.  We all found it odd that we had not had a confirmed sighting of a Rough-legged Hawk, but had seen many Red-tails.

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